Global Matters Debate: How should we view the staging of historical memory?

A Victory Day parade held in Moscow, marking the defeat of Nazi Germany. Image: William Pittman, U.S. Navy.

A Victory Day parade held in Moscow, marking the defeat of Nazi Germany. Image: William Pittman, U.S. Navy.

Historical anniversaries are often politicized and sometimes even turned into massive-scale propaganda events. This raises the question: how should governments deal with important anniversaries and the management historic memory? Join our debate on ‪#‎Global Matters‬ and read what our experts think! http://bit.ly/1fK9eMv

News from Aug 28, 2015

Anniversaries come and go, but now and then some are elevated to a specific interest, and play the role of a crucial date. This year, 2015, makes the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In May the Russian authorities organized a huge parade on Red Square in Moscow. Then, for the 3rd of September, the Chinese ruling party have planned something similar on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. In both cases, some foreign governments faced the quandary of whether or not they should attend and participate.

The reason for this is not some small historical squabble over this or that detail, but rather the value of these commemorations within the current paradigm. In practice, history is not what has been, but rather what we need it to be today.

So what attitude should governments hold towards the staging of historical memory?